New loan signing Stephen Warnock has made a big impact in his first two games for Latics against Colchester United and Bradford City. Warnock made an impressive debut at Colchester and went on to produce a man-of-the-match performance in the 1-0 victory over one of his former clubs Bradford at the DW Stadium.
The former Liverpool and England international defender has been signed on loan from Derby County, and his quality and experience could be a crucial factor in the remaining nine games of the season.
Latics already have some experienced players in defence with Jussi Jaaskelainen, Craig Morgan and Jason Pearce but the addition of Warnock could help them to get over the finishing line to promotion.
Warnock is not only a mentally strong and resolute defender who is cool under pressure, but his distribution is excellent and he is capable of making a killer pass.
Gary Caldwell knew Warnock from his early days as a Youth team player at Liverpool and it could prove a masterstroke to bring in the 34-year-old Warnock to fill the gap caused by Reece James’ injury and Chris McCann’s suspension.
Caldwell spotted Warnock was available after a change in manager meant that he lost his regular place in the Derby team.
Warnock could have gone to another Championship club but he was excited about the prospect of signing for a promotion-chasing team and the Ormskirk born defender jumped at the opportunity to join Latics.
Warnock is vastly experienced and has made 376 league appearances and just under half of these have been in the Premier League. If he continues his good form there is no reason why the move couldn’t become permanent – particularly if Latics are in the Championship.
Latics have shown great ambition by bringing in a player of such quality at this stage in the season. Warnock’s addition has given the club a huge boost, which will help them in the final push for promotion
There are two difficult games over the Easter period against form teams Swindon Town away and Rochdale at home. Both teams have only lost one of their last eight games and both teams will be looking to cause an upset. Rochdale have an outside chance of the play-offs and Swindon will be looking to move into the top half of the table.
Caldwell is likely to make full use of his squad with two games in four days and will be boosted by the return of Chris McCann from suspension and hopefully Jason Pearce and Conor McAleny will be available after injury.
This article was first published in the 12th Man column for the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 25th March 2016.